FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon last week revealed her favourite book of the year – The Heart’s Invisible Furies, by Irish author John Boyne.
She said the novel, about an adopted boy growing up in 1940s Ireland, was more than just the story of one man.
“The novel begins in 1945, and ends just as Ireland votes to legalise gay marriage – a country making peace with its past,” she said.
“It is a beautifully written epic and will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.”
Over the past decade we’ve seen Kindle devices compete with the old-fashioned physical book.
But it’s not the only way our reading habits have changed, according to Waterstones.
Angie Crawford is the Scottish buying manager for the giant book retailer.
“Over the last decade, we’ve seen different trends – ten years ago misery memoirs were all the rage, we loved a good celeb biography and football memoir,” she explained.
“Now these may take more of a back seat as we curl up with crime fiction.
“In the Scottish market we have seen the growth of detective fiction with big names such as Ian Rankin, Peter May and Val McDermid.”
And although electronic devices were widely predicted to be the death knell for paper books, Angie reckons physical copies will continue to sell.
“Electronic reading has its place and can be a convenience for readers packing for their summer holidays but our infatuation with e-reading has plateaued,” said Angie. “Nothing can beat getting your physical book signed by the author. Our experience is that readers use a combination of both but the physical book wins!”
Tomorrow is the start of Book Week Scotland and to mark it we asked writers and celebrities to tell us their favourite novels.
ONE of Scotland’s leading crime writers, Denise Mina, is used to putting her fans through the wringer.
But it was her turn to feel the chill when she visited Edinburgh Castle to research a story.
She said: “My pal and I were given a behind-the-scenes tour to all the parts visitors don’t see, like John Maclean’s cell, wooden walkways above a sheer cliff and toilets that soldiers used which had an 80ft drop.
“It felt like a real honour and privilege that we got to see it.
“The guide also took us to David’s Tower, which is the oldest part of the castle.
“We went down this shoogly 50ft staircase. He told us it was safe but it was swinging.
“I’m not great with heights and I wanted to stop half way down and start crying. It was like gripping on to a cliff face.”
Denise, from Glasgow, was one of 12 Tartan Noir authors asked to write a story set in an iconic Scottish location for new book, Bloody Scotland.
For five years I’ve been married to a very lovely man but the truth is that I’m not in love with him and I wasn’t the day I walked down the aisle.
I’m attracted to women and I’ve known it all my life, even if I have tried to bury it. I had one fling at university with a female friend, which was confusing and passionate, and then quickly fell into a series of relationships with kind, interesting, safe men.
I’ve recently felt the energy starting to drain out of me. I’m always tired and so my husband suggested I joined a local interest group to get me out of the house. I’ve met a kindred spirit there and although we haven’t spoken in depth, we are getting closer. She says she is also in a marriage that is no longer fulfilling her needs and I feel her looking at me in a way other women don’t.
When I missed a recent club meeting she messaged me saying she missed me. I think about her all the time, which makes me feel incredibly disloyal to my husband. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
GUILT is a nasty emotion — so use it to power you into leaving.
‘Do it for your husband if necessary,’ says James McConnachie, ‘because keeping him in a marriage with someone who doesn’t really love him is not being very kind.’
Coming out happens in steps. By writing to us you have made the hardest one: you have come out to yourself and finally accepted that your inner world should match your outer one. There are many ways to align them, says Rupert Smith.
‘For some, like me, it can mean guzzling half a bottle of gin, then blurting it all out in a tear-soaked confession over Sunday dinner,’ he says. ‘For you, it means sitting down with your husband and facing some inconvenient truths and reaching some decisions.’
This conversation will mark the end of your marriage, says Dr Angharad Rudkin.
‘Sad though this will be,’ she says, ‘it does mean that neither of you will waste any more time being with someone who can’t give them what they need.’
Try to reach an amicable separation.
‘Only then should you consider expressing your feelings to your friend,’ Rudkin continues. ‘Even if she is not the one for you, she will have helped you to clarify your needs and for that she will always be important.’
Finally, if you need help building courage, McConnachie suggests you read a book about coming-out stories. Val McDermid and Evan Davis edited a collection about celebrities called It’s OK To Be Gay (Accent Press).
‘You are not alone in all of this,’ he says. ‘And neither you nor your husband should spend your lives alone either.’